Entries Tagged 'Content writer' ↓

Copywriting – The Power of Words

If there’s one thing that never changes in the world of marketing, it’s the power of the written word.

Adverts, websites, brochures and emails would be nothing if it wasn’t for the carefully crafted copy that persuades their readers to part with their hard earned cash.

That’s why I wanted to bring this post back from the archives. It’s as relevant today as it was 3 years ago. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the power of words:


Words can be a powerful force when used correctly.

In a novel they have to conjour up an image in your head so you can visualise the characters and scenes they are playing out. In the world of marketing they have to be direct, simple and to the point.

This is something I frequently have to remind my clients – not all, but a few.

A while ago, I was writing for one client and nothing I produced seemed good enough. It was frustrating because I knew what I had written worked. No matter how many times I explained my reasons for using certain layouts and words, it wasn’t good enough.

The reason…

“I thought you were supposed to make me sound more intelligent.”

Eeek! And there was me thinking the whole purpose behind copywriting was to generate sales.

So what does a freelance copywriter do?

Working as a freelance copywriter, it is my job to create great copy which will be interesting and sell – but without being ‘in your face’ super sales hype.

I write all sorts of copy from SEO website copywriting through to reviews and just about everything else in between.

Let’s take website copywriting as an example. If you could ask someone what their reaction was when they landed on your website, which scenario would you prefer?

Scenario 1

Reader – “Gosh, what a superbly written site. You are obviously incredibly intelligent and well edcated.”

You – “Why thank you, and what did you think of our product?”

Reader – “Product? Oh, were you selling something too?”

Scenario 2

Reader – “Amazing, that’s just what I’ve been looking for. It’ll solve all my problems.”

You – “Great. What did you think of the writing on the website?”

Reader – “Writing? Oh, I don’t know. I was too interested in your product and how it would help me.”

I think I know which one I  would perfer.

Invisible writing

It sounds rather strange that your writing should be invisible to your reader, but that’s how it should come across. The words you use have one purpose only – to convince your reader the product you are selling is the one for them.

Becoming blinkered by your own writing ego is the fastest way to churn out redundant copy. If someone is reading your website or brochures, they are doing so for one reason only – they want to know if your product is a fit for their needs. If they can’t find that our quickly, they’ll move on to the next company’s product.

Clear, conscise and simple – that’s it. No frills, no sparkles and no sequins.

A Writing Checklist for Content Marketers… and Everyone Else

Kevin Cain of OpenView Blog has kindly agreed to allow me to re-post his blog A Writing Checklist for Content Marketers… and Everyone Else on Freelance Copywriter’s Blog. A very useful article for copywriters and content writers.

In a recent guest blog post for the Content Marketing Institute, I talked about how crisp writing and a consistent treatment of words and phrases are a very public reflection of an organization’s professionalism. The post went on to describe how to create a content marketing style guide and to make the point that in the digital age, where our thirst for content and ability to share that content is greater than ever before, style guides are essential.

I stand by that claim, but also recognize that putting a style guide together can be a pretty daunting task, particularly when resources are limited. That’s why in this post I’m giving you an out in the form of a writer’s checklist. A regular component of the style guides I’ve created over the years, it’s essentially a one-page cheat sheet that you can use to help make sure your content is up to snuff.

My Writer’s Checklist

Always remember to read your writing out loud and ask yourself: Is it easy to read? Do you stumble anywhere? Is it hard to follow? While doing so, remember to check the following:

Overall Effect
  • What is the main message being communicated?
  • Is it interesting to read?
  • How does it look? Are the paragraphs divided into easily digestible lengths?
  • Read your first sentence or two. Is the purpose of your writing clear? Have you hooked your reader into wanting to read more?
  • Does the story progress naturally and logically? Would any paragraphs make better sense elsewhere?
  • Are your point of view and tone consistent?
  • Have you chosen words that are appropriate for your audience?
  • Will your writing offend anyone who is reading it?
  • Is each sentence complete? Does each focus on a simple point? Is each clear and explicit?
  • If all sentences are about the same length, can you find ways to vary their lengths?
  • Are your transitions between sentences and paragraphs smooth and logical?
  • Are you writing in active (not passive) voice?
  • Have you used verb tenses consistently?
  • Are adverbs and adjectives used excessively?
  • Are any words overused?
  • Do any parts of your writing sound wordy, choppy or repetitive?
  • Do any of your sentences start with and, but, or so? Can you eliminate these words without changing your meaning? If not, can you combine these sentences with others without making them excessively long?
Grammar and Spelling
  • Do all your subjects and verbs agree?
  • Do all your pronouns agree with the subjects to which they refer?
  • Have you spell-checked?
  • Are all names and titles accurate and spelled correctly?

While a checklist like this will never take the place of a content marketing style guide, following it will at least make you think more about your writing before you share it with the rest of the world. Doing so will almost always lead you to a better final product.

Content Marketing – How to Use Freelancers Effectively

Kevin Cain of OpenView Blog has kindly agreed to allow me to re-post his blog Deploying the Troops: 5 Tips for Using Freelancers Effectively in Content Marketing on Freelance Copywriter’s Blog.Kevin Cain

Kevin Cain oversees content strategy at OpenView Venture Partners, a Boston-based venture capital firm that invests in expansion-stage technology companies. With expertise in corporate communications and content marketing, Kevin has spent the past ten years working with large international financial services companies and consulting firms. Learn more by checking out his content marketing blog or following him on Twitter @kevinrcain.

In my last blog post, I described the important role that freelancers can play in executing a content marketing strategy and provided some tips for building a freelance team. Of course, assembling a team of great freelance talent is just the first step. You then need to figure out the best way to use that talent to get the results you need. While there’s no single right answer, following these rules of the road will help:

1) Put them to the test, onboard the best

Any time you’re working with new freelancers — no matter how impressive their credentials or how highly they’ve been recommended — always start off with a test assignment. The idea is to start them off with a small project that either isn’t a high priority or that you have the time to redo if necessary.

This approach may seem a little counter-intuitive at first — after all, if you’re paying for their time, you want to get something out of it. Even so, you’re much better off testing the waters, rather than finding out that the very important content you’ve entrusted a new freelancer to write needs to be completely redone at the last minute. Your strongest freelancers will quickly prove their worth, and from there it’s easy to start engaging them on meatier projects.

2) Go broad, then get organized

Always try to have a variety of freelancers in your network with different backgrounds, skills, and expertise. Doing so will make the team much more valuable and allow you to create a broader range of content.

Use a spreadsheet to help not only keep track of important logistical details, such as your freelancers’ rates and availability, but also to catalog the types of projects they are best used for and any specific strengths or weaknesses they may have. This is also the place to keep tabs on their performance. I assign a grade to every freelancer I work with, so I know who to send my most important projects to (the A-listers), who are best suited to handling the low-hanging fruit (the B-listers), and who I probably won’t use again (everyone else). Unlike in school, when it comes to creating great content, a C isn’t a passing grade.

3) Provide Structure and Guidance

Freelancers aren’t mind readers or magicians. If you want them to create good content, you have to position them to do so. Set clear expectations, ensure that they have access to the right tools and resources (such as your company’s editorial style guidelines), and make yourself available to talk through ideas and answer questions. While you don’t want to micro-manage, any time you engage a freelancer, be collaborative and invest the time necessary to ensure that you are both on the same page from the start.

4) Use Flat Fees if Possible

Negotiating flat fees for specific projects often makes the most sense. Doing so, rather than simply letting your freelancers bill you for however many hours they work, encourages them to manage their time more effectively and keeps everyone’s expectations in check. That said, there can always be unexpected hiccups that significantly increase the time it takes to complete a project, so offer to adjust fees accordingly. Trying to nickel and dime your freelancers, even when budgets are tight, is rarely a winning strategy.

5) You’re the Boss, Act Like It

It’s up to you to enforce deadlines and standards, provide honest and constructive feedback, and to take action when a freelancer isn’t performing. It’s important to build great relationships with your freelancers, and one of the best of ways to do so is by always providing leadership and direction.

The Reason Why You Should Generate Content

What’s the Point of Content Generation?

You all know how important it is to produce a continual stream of content.

But under no circumstances is that content to be a blatant sales pitch.

What? I can’t sell? Then what’s the point?

If you generate content that is just all about selling, no one is going to read it and people will be turned off your company because of it.

But, if you generate content that is full of cracking information that people love, you’ll draw them to you. Mind you, just because you can’t directly sell through your content doesn’t mean you can’t use it to gently persuade them to take a specific action.

What I’m talking about here is to get your reader to do something you want them to do (other than put pounds in your till), such as signing up for your newsletter, downloading your latest report or white paper, following you on a social media platform (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Google+) or subscribe to your blog RSS feed.

By giving them information in exchange for a relatively minor thing (well, minor in their minds), you can enhance and build your relationship with them.

How to get them to do what you want them to do

There are 2 ways to achieve your goal:

  • Through your readers’ fear
  • Through your readers’ desires

What do I mean?

Well, everyone is motivated either by having a problem they need to solve, or wanting something that’s going to improve their life, income or general well-being.

In either case, the method to go about convincing them you’re the company they need is to use the following format:

Forumla for effective content generation




First, convince them they have either a serious problem (this will be particularly relevant if you are a company that helps solve problems) or that they will greatly benefit from you. For many companies, they will fall into both categories, i.e. being a problem solver and a benefits giver.

Secondly, you must counter any potential objections the reader may have, such as price etc.

Thirdly, once you’ve established the fear or desire the reader is feeling, you can offer your product/service as the life line they’ve been looking for.

So, there you go.

Every piece of content you produce must convince your reader to do something, but without overtly selling to them.

Next time you write a blog post, create some web copy or post on a social media platform, think about what you want to achieve from your writing and make sure it has a purpose.

Over to you

Does your content always have a purpose?

Have you found any great methods that work for you?

Leave a comment below and share your successes.

Sally Ormond, Copywriter

Does Your Content Have a Purpose?

There is one formula that is ingrained in the minds of many internet marketers and internet businesses out there:


The regular addition of fresh content will undoubtedly help your search engine optimisation strategy, generate more traffic and therefore potential business.

But just adding content for the sake of it could do more harm than good.

If you write or commission a copywriter to create a vast number of SEO rich articles for your website are you really adding value?

“But I’m driving traffic!” I hear you cry.

You many well be but what’s in it for those people when they find your article?

  • What value will it add?
  • What’s your call to action?
  • Is it really all that relevant?

If your content doesn’t offer the reader anything or ask anything of them, what’s the point?

Adding fresh content to your website is a good thing.

Making sure it’s search engine optimised is great.

But you also have to ensure it’s relevant, adds value and asks something of your reader. If you don’t they’ll skim read and head off to another website because you haven’t used that content to draw them into your website, get interested about your product or buy.

So the moral of this post is – add content, make it relevant and make sure there’s a call to action/lead into your main website.